Loudoun Valley Just Finished The Best Two Year Stretch Ever

You have to go back six seasons and nearly three years to find Loudoun Valley High School's last loss as a boys team in a major championship. 


Six seasons and nearly three years

Including this past weekend's latest state title, the Vikings have been crowned team champions nine straight times across three years of action, both within the state of Virginia and nationally. 

That includes an unprecedented run in cross country, where the Vikings became the first boys program in the country to win back-to-back national titles while scoring the event's record low in points. 

In high school athletics, few teams have ever maintained that kind of domain throughout a single calendar year, let alone two. 

So is it even an argument then? That over the last two years and six seasons the Vikings' boys distance program has been the best ever? 

This past weekend, the Vikings won their third straight Group 4A Championship distributed across five events. 

"It's been just a great series of seasons and years with those guys," said Vikings' tactician Joan Hunter, who's been the Xs and Os guru behind the status of the country's deepest roster. "It's bittersweet knowing some of them will move on and go to college, but I'd say we expect our guys next year to be strong again. We've run really well." 

"You obviously feel some pride in that," said Marc Hunter, the co-head coach with an eye for doing the little things, and whom works hand-in-hand with his wife. "You look at it back from where we sit and it's something we've come to expect. We're at that level now." 

No race was more emblematic of this team's dominance this weekend than the 3,200 meter final in Lynchburg, where Vikings' runners assumed the race's first seven positions, totaling 38 team points. 

* Loudoun Valley's boys ran a US No. 1 4x800 relay in 7:38.93

Not since the 2018 indoor season, during the team's championship 1,600 meter final, has the team been as dominant in one race in a major setting--that year they went one through six, and then eighth. 

Not even when Loudoun Valley had one of the greatest distance runners of all-time, Drew Hunter, was the team as dominant as it has been over these last two-plus years--though their success, which included some incredible team performances, may have started there. 

"We weren't surprised that we did it," Joan said, adding that she would have liked to see the team get all eight spots. "We pretty much expected that." 

Of course, you may be wondering how this is even possible. 

View: VHSL Group 3A/4A Championship Coverage

How could the Vikings even qualify 11 athletes in the 3,200m and 11 more in the 1,600m? 

But Virginia's high school athletic association is unlike most others. Its qualifying procedures allow for such a reign to sustain itself. Many other states, including the likes of Texas and California and Florida, allocate a set number of athletes to qualify throughout a number of meets. 

Virginia, meanwhile, has time standards for individual athletes to hit. The NFHS has no governing rule on its member states toward qualification for individual championships. 

So Loudoun Valley has pounced on that loophole. And yet, what's been so impressive has been the team's remarkable depth. 

"Guys will have good days and guys will have bad days," Marc said. "But we'll always have guys who step up." 

There are the obvious standouts like Sam Affolder, who's headed to the University of Washington; Jacob Hunter, who's off to the University of Virginia; and Connor Wells, who's set for Duke University. 

But the Vikings' success hasn't stemmed only from its Big Three. Senior Jacob Windle, another runner headed to a Division I program--Ivy League Cornell--won his first individual state title in the 1,600m this weekend and was part of the squad's US No. 1 4x800 and national record setting run in the DMR over the indoor season. 

Junior Carlos Shultz, a transfer this fall, was the team's first finisher at NXN and won this weekend's 3,200 meter final in 9:19.94. Juniors Kevin Carlson, Mateo Barreto and Kellen Hasle will pick up the reigns from the seniors following graduation--if you're wondering, there's another Affolder, Luke, who's just a sophomore. 

"There's no hard feelings," Marc said of runners stepping up when the moment calls of it. "Your teammates are there to pick you up." 

Was there one moment? A perfect encapsulation of the fight and spirit of this team? 

It's hard to argue Jacob Hunter's performance in the 3,200m.

Predicted to win, he fell twice and ultimately had to fight back into the race over two separate instances before ultimately finishing second, spiked and bloodied. He was also third in the 800m and was on the team's nation-leading 4x800, which finished in 7:38.93. 

What's the saying? Hard work beats talent

"Most kids would have given up at that point," Joan said of her son's persistence. "But he hates to lose." 

Will this streak continue through cross country? 

For many who follow distance running at the high school ranks, it's the question lingering in the air. 

But if Loudoun Valley has proved anything over the past six seasons, and if Joan and Marc have learned just as much over that time, the Vikings should never be out of the conversation. 

"We've got 4:20 guys in that (junior) group and 9:20 2-milers and things like that," Joan said, "so I guess we're not feeling like we're losing (that much)."

"We're not always going to be this deep," Marc said. "But when we are we'll take advantage of it, and it will inspire others." 

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Contact MileSplit USA national writer Cory Mull at cory.mull@flosports.tv or follow him on Twitter @bycorymull

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